Today I finally finished the Mathematics for Computer Science class that I have worked on since December. For the last year or two I have wanted to do some general Computer Science study in my free time that is not directly related to my work. I documented a lot of this journey in an earlier blog post.
The math class is on MIT’s OpenCourseWare (OCW) web site. It was an undergraduate semester class and I spent about 9 months on it mostly in my spare time outside of work. I wanted to test out OCW as a source for training just as I had experimented with edX before. So, I thought I would share my thoughts on the experience.
The class contained high quality material. It was an undergraduate class so it may not have been as deep as a graduate level class could be but world-class MIT professors taught the class. Some of my favorite parts of the video lectures were where professor Leighton made comments about how the material applied in the real world.
The biggest negative was that a lot of the problems did not have answers. Also, I was pretty much working through this class on my own. There were some helpful people on a Facebook group that some of my edX classmates created that helped keep me motivated. But there wasn’t a large community of people taking the same class.
Also, it makes me wonder where I should spend time developing myself. Should I be working more on my communication and leadership skills through Toastmasters? Should I be working on my writing? Should I be learning more Oracle features?
I spent months studying for Oracle’s 12c OCP certification exam and I kind of got burnt out on that type of study. The OCP exam has a lot of syntax. To me syntax, which you can look up in a manual, is boring. The underlying computer science is interesting. It is fun to try to understand the Oracle optimizer and Oracle internals, locking, backup and recovery, etc. There is a never-ending well of Oracle knowledge that I could pursue.
Also, there is a lot of cloud stuff going on. I could dive into Amazon and other cloud providers. I also have an interest in open source. MySQL and PostgreSQL intrigue me because I could actually have the source code.
But, there is only so much time in the day and I can’t do everything. I don’t regret taking the math for computer science class even if it was a diversion from my Toastmasters activities and not directly related to work. Now I have a feel for the kind of materials that you have on OCW: high quality, general computer science, mostly self-directed. Now I just have to think about what is next.